Question Will the ‘exciter effect’ be the next best thing in hi-fi.?

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Witterings

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If the artist is any good, he will have chosen his live sound or recording engineer.
In a live venue, he will have done a sound check.
Before releasing a recording he should really have at least listened to see if it meets his approval.

Think about that in practical terms .... take The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ... they turn up at a gig, violinist number 2 thinks the PA system's amazing but the trombonist wants it completely ripped out replaced with something else.
The cellist thinks there's too much reverb whilst the Timpani player doesn't think there's enough and they're using the wrong microphones ... the ones they had at the venue the other night sounded so much better .... or was it the acoustics there or a different PA or a different mixing engineer.

The whole of the orchestra then all squeeze into a tiny mixing room and argue the **** out of each other because one likes it one way and someone else the other (this won't be much diferent to a smaller band) so in the end the mixing engineer probably has the final say ..... even if he tweaks it when they're gone.

Let's just take a single guitarist in a band with his fuzz box and the amount of distortion he gives it and the amount opf reverb on his amp .... are you telling me no mixing engineer is EVER going to make any tweaks to that sound?

You also seem to have a dislike for valve amps .... the vast majority of guitarists I've ever been in bands with prefer a valve guitar amp.

Just give me an amp that takes an input and faithfully makes it louder - enough to drive speakers adequately.
What if it's a totally rubbish recording?

How many times have you heard the comment it's a poor recording or master ... if all the musicians have as much control as you think they do surely that'd never happen and I hear it daily in forums especially when people are talking about speakers and how one pair can be very revealing and brilliant with good recordings but at the same time unforgiving and awful with bad ones.

Give a **** drummer the best kit in the world and it'll sound rubbish, give the best drummer a set of kitchen pots, pans, lids plastic tubs and milk bottles and he'll make it sound amazing.

I think musicians are more interested in "the feel" of a song and PRAT which is what they and the audience will feel and gives a track expression / emotion ... the finite detail of "colour" at the end is just down to user preferencea and what tools someone uses to achieve that is down to the individual.
 
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Jasonovich

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Valve amps are obviously not only bought for their appearance. Their signature touch is why they are popular among purists. But rather than magic, this is completely emulatable.

The ‘no aides’ argument
When we demand hi-fi as uncoloured as possible, valve amps are totally contrary to that idea. They add harmonic distortion and more as specified below.

1024px-Mcintosh-MC240-glow.jpg


Just like this box does for pro audio.
exciter.png

An exciter (also called a harmonic exciter or aural exciter) is an audio signal processing technique used to enhance a signal by dynamic equalization, phase manipulation, harmonic synthesis of (usually) high frequency signals, and through the addition of subtle harmonic distortion. Dynamic equalization involves variation of the equalizer characteristics in the time domain as a function of the input. Due to the varying nature, noise is reduced compared to static equalizers. Harmonic synthesis involves the creation of higher order harmonics from the fundamental frequency signals present in the recording. As noise is usually more prevalent at higher frequencies, the harmonics are derived from a purer frequency band resulting in clearer highs. Exciters are also used to synthesize harmonics of low frequency signals to simulate deep bass in smaller speakers.

Uses​

  • Making vocals sound more "breathy". This is why the original product was called an Aural Exciter
  • Enhancing dull recordings, especially analog reel-to-reel tape recordings that have lost their "sparkle" due to repeated overdubs
“Originally made in valve (tube) based equipment, they are now implemented as part of a digital signal processor, often trying to emulate analogue exciters. Exciters are mostly found as plug-ins for sound editing software and in sound enhancement processors.”

In other words, the effect came before or along with valve amps. But the way they are configured is also implementable into other kinds of amps. Now, since there is totally no magic and every signature is reproducible. Dsp is a wonderful thing and there is definitely a market for that among audiophiles, who would want an accessible ‘valve sound’ without spending a lot on a good valve amp and a higher energy bill.

I don’t know if Yamaha implemented this on all its digital models and for what time. But the Wxa-50 amp is one of the amps as an example of which has the exciter effect as an option aboard (and direct mode for the valve amp colouration opposer)


553163


Yamaha calls it enhancer, another brand might call it exciter or something else. If anyone knows other brands that apply this in technique somewhere in their current line up amps, feel free to add them.

In case of Yamaha they are not advertising this, its description of what it does is kind of vague for the average user. Most likely it might stay like a vague description since the ‘no aides’ group will remain vocal and sceptical users might not like the idea.

In my opinion having affordable class D amps that can sound like a valve amp is in my opinion a great potential leap in affordable modern hi-fi. It might be or totally not be a nail in the coffin of real valve amps. Personally I think it mainly bites into the affordable valve amp market, but it all depends on how visible it will become and how it will unfold into the market.

What is your opinion on this?

(Ps credits for contributing info about the exciter effect to user DvdDoug on the audioscience forum.)

I quess I'm old school; 'exciters' strike me as added ingredients or the music equivalent of audio AI. I just prefer listening to the music close to it's original source, if the recording is ghastly, I rather it produces that faithful reproduction, wart's n all.

I must mention my little 'exciter' today; after three weeks of waiting for the postal delivery, I received my Fossi V3 Orange volume knob, I know, small things but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. Before replacing the knob I just assumed it was made from plastic but both the orange and the original knobs are made from metal, nice surprise.

I do love the 'atmospheric' sound of tube amps, almost like you're in a smokey noisey crowded jazz club, someone shuffled the deck of cards and Nina on stage, her velvety majestic tones drowning out the laughter.
You can easily get lost, when you turn on the magic switch on the tube amp.
My two cats and perhaps unjustly, tube amp reputation for their poor reliability, has put me off. The solid state equivalent class A provides the best of both worlds.
 
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My answer to your thread title question is NO.
(If they're into hi-fi for the right reasons, their music does all the exciting they need).
Don't like valve signature - too flabby in the LFs, soft midrange, sucks too much electricity, limited lifespan of the valves. And there's more....

The owners of valve tend to be "look at what I got..."

I put them in the same bracket as those who say, "do you know who I am?"
 
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AJM1981

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I quess I'm old school; 'exciters' strike me as added ingredients or the music equivalent of audio AI. I just prefer listening to the music close to it's original source, if the recording is ghastly, I rather it produces that faithful reproduction, wart's n all.

I must mention my little 'exciter' today; after three weeks of waiting for the postal delivery, I received my Fossi V3 Orange volume knob, I know, small things but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. Before replacing the knob I just assumed it was made from plastic but both the orange and the original knobs are made from metal, nice surprise.

I do love the 'atmospheric' sound of tube amps, almost like you're in a smokey noisey crowded jazz club, someone shuffled the deck of cards and Nina on stage, her velvety majestic tones drowning out the laughter.
You can easily get lost, when you turn on the magic switch on the tube amp.
My two cats and perhaps unjustly, tube amp reputation for their poor reliability, has put me off. The solid state equivalent class A provides the best of both worlds.
The ‘exciter effect’ was developed for tube amps, that is what gives you the ‘sound experience thing’ you describe.So, it would not be logical to make personal sorting orders in what is subjectively real and what is not. If you don’t like the signature of the effect, you should not like your tube amp’s sound that you describe. It is that simple.

implementing the same thing into a class D doesn’t make it anywhere of a different experience because the effect comes ahead of the implementation. That is also described in the article.

The class D does not ‘emulate’ a tube amp, the effect is what drives both systems and resulting in both sharing exactly the same sound experience. It is exactly the same thing.

Apart from not having the cool (or warm) ‘appearance’ and a lower electricity bill for the class D. And it is also an optional turn off.

And to some users here the difference you describe as the signature that you like is not the pure deal so we are on exactly the same boat here for when it comes to liking that particular signature in audio.

For the seperation

Either one likes the sound ‘signature’ of the Yamaha with the enhancer (exciter effect) and a Tube amp. Or one hates both.

You also can like both direct or as described, like me. But for some that seems no option
 
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Jasonovich

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The ‘exciter effect’ was developed for tube amps, that is what gives you the ‘sound experience thing’ you describe.So, it would not be logical to make personal sorting orders in what is subjectively real and what is not. If you don’t like the signature of the effect, you should not like your tube amp’s sound that you describe. It is that simple.

implementing the same thing into a class D doesn’t make it anywhere of a different experience because the effect comes ahead of the implementation. That is also described in the article.

The class D does not ‘emulate’ a tube amp, the effect is what drives both systems and resulting in both sharing exactly the same sound experience. It is exactly the same thing.

Apart from not having the cool (or warm) ‘appearance’ and a lower electricity bill for the class D. And it is also an optional turn off.

And to some users here the difference you describe as the signature that you like is not the pure deal so we are on exactly the same boat here for when it comes to liking that particular signature in audio.

For the seperation

Either one likes the sound ‘signature’ of the Yamaha with the enhancer (exciter effect) and a Tube amp. Or one hates both.

You also can like both direct or as described, like me. But for some that seems no option
Surely you meant class A?
I did referenced Fossi V3 class D amp but I was just going off topic, my apologies 😊
The Edison Class A monoblock tube amps I once owned dated back over 30 years ago, did they implement the exciter effect then?
I vaguely recall reading something about this, is this feature of all tube amps?
If that is so and Im absolutely honest, there was no unnatural artefacts or odd shaping of the sound. If this was present with the Edisons then I was oblivious to any changes in the sound. I just liked what I was hearing.
Tubes are not perfect, it's more akin to a musical instrument with its own sonic signature.
I'm not sure if I listen to tube now it would be the same musical experience, I do like structural integrity of solid state sound, the tight bass and transparency in the higher frequencies.
Do I prefer waffles with my omelette or do I prefer hash browns?
 
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AJM1981

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Surely you meant class A?
I did referenced Fossi V3 class D amp but I was just going off topic, my apologies 😊
The Edison Class A monoblock tube amps I once owned dated back over 30 years ago, did they implement the exciter effect then?
I vaguely recall reading something about this, is this feature of all tube amps?
Yes, it is. Kind of an "ancient" implementation choice hat they went for those days and always have stuck with to get the 'tube sound'. The sound of tubes doesn't magically appear because there are tubes. Tubes were also in tv's but it didn't make a difference in image nor sound there.

There might have been a few tube amps without the signature. But when people 'know' about it, and love the signature, It is hard to sell a product that doesnt add just that. People are not going to buy valve amps only for the way they look. Altough.


If that is so and Im absolutely honest, there was no unnatural artefacts or odd shaping of the sound. If this was present with the Edisons then I was oblivious to any changes in the sound. I just liked what I was hearing.
That is the exciter effect as it is

Tubes are not perfect indeed. There is harmonic distortion, which adds a bit of 'spice' to the midrange, where the vocals are and also a little bit to the bass / sub bass area. It does the things described in the opening and it widens the image just by a fraction. I is like a drop of difference, not an ocean.

The best way to describe it is when I listen to a Jazz track. It is this minor change. The difference in what a mic picked up (direct mode) and the spark of life brought back from the musicians behind that microphone (exciter effect) Resulting in a little sense of more realism.

Tubes are not perfect, it's more akin to a musical instrument with its own sonic signature.
I'm not sure if I listen to tube now it would be the same musical experience, I do like structural integrity of solid state sound, the tight bass and transparency in the higher frequencies.
Do I prefer waffles with my omelette or do I prefer hash browns?

For pop songs like EDM with tight bass on direct mode might be a hairslice more preferable. But singer songwriter, rock, jazz, classical, vocals etc.. definitely the exciter effect.
 
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Gray

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Purists I think tend to listen to their equipment, rather than the music. :)
Some might.
Just as those who favour tone controls etc. might.
I don't.

What I take from some of the comments here is (and I'm paraphrasing):

Live sound is less than perfect, sometimes full of deliberately inflicted distortion effects....
So it's ok to have less than 'purist' hi-fi (in whatever form that may take).
Fine, if that's what somebody wants 👍

It seems that some use the term 'purist' as if somebody desiring the purist sound is some sort of snob 🤔
Maybe some are. Just as non- purists are.
Best not to tar everyone with the same brush.

You will never hear me say that anybody's preference for distorted playback is wrong for them.

Whether or not someone regards themself as a purist, their equipment was (hopefully) designed by one.

If you have, or have ever had a 'tone defeat / source direct' button you've got the ultimate purist function on your amp 😱
 

Jasonovich

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Some might.
Just as those who favour tone controls etc. might.
I don't.

What I take from some of the comments here is (and I'm paraphrasing):

Live sound is less than perfect, sometimes full of deliberately inflicted distortion effects....
So it's ok to have less than 'purist' hi-fi (in whatever form that may take).
Fine, if that's what somebody wants 👍

It seems that some use the term 'purist' as if somebody desiring the purist sound is some sort of snob 🤔
Maybe some are. Just as non- purists are.
Best not to tar everyone with the same brush.

You will never hear me say that anybody's preference for distorted playback is wrong for them.

Whether or not someone regards themself as a purist, their equipment was (hopefully) designed by one.

If you have, or have ever had a 'tone defeat / source direct' button you've got the ultimate purist function on your amp 😱
Its good to get it off your chest hahaha!

Live sounds can be different, Milton Keynes Open Bowl or Wembley Arena, will have their own sonic signatures, mike distortion, all kinds of stuff. It's a different kind of listening experience from music produced from a studio.
Personally I rather not have tone down buttons.
Here's the deal, there isn't an exact science, what contitutes purist form of HiFi.
I think we're both on the same page here 😊
Some amp with tone buttons may actually sound better than the one that is minimalist and price equivalent,
I'm not alluding to, oh it sounds better because of the superdupa tone controls but more the case of, it is better designed, has superior components etc.
The minimalist amp heralded by the HiFi press as the second coming but when you dissect the entrails, you will see it has poor component, power supply is mediocre.
Appearances are superficial and it's true never judge book by its cover.
There is some snobbery in the HIFI circles, if it fits in the square hole, then it must be kosher, eh?
 
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AJM1981

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Some people are getting likes in judging something they never really tested. And I guess 'hear-say', ,'assuming that' etc is already enough to put something with a philosophy on the same pile as tone controls, damage distortion, reverb, echo and things that are miles away from what it really is. Kind of making it possible here to also judge amps and loudspeakers as judging books by their covers. Handy. "Show me something and I project an opinion onto it"

They would probably sit back and enjoy music through a tube amp, either casually, blind or double blind. But then get in crisis about their opinions after.

For me, music through a tube amp and decent loudspeakers is as enjoyable as a standard class d or a or a-b or a good headphone. But that doesn't match with the poorly informed popular conservative tribal opinion.
 
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Gray

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Some people are getting likes in judging something they never really tested. And I guess 'hear-say', ,'assuming that' etc is already enough to put something with a philosophy on the same pile as tone controls, damage distortion, reverb, echo and things that are miles away from what it really is. Kind of making it possible here to also judge amps and loudspeakers as judging books by their covers. Handy. "Show me something and I project an opinion onto it"

They would probably sit back and enjoy music through a tube amp, either casually, blind or double blind. But then get in crisis about their opinions after.

For me, music through a tube amp and decent loudspeakers is as enjoyable as a standard class d or a or a-b or a good headphone. But that doesn't match with the poorly informed popular conservative tribal opinion.
No need to worry, nobody is arguing against your desire for a bit of added colouration with your sound 👍
If it's right for you, it's right for you - end of story.

Edit: Just seen what looks like a good offer.
British firm Icon Audio get great reviews for their valve amps - giving away some £1300 floorstanders' free when you buy an amp:
IMG_20231015_160115_MP.jpg
 
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Jasonovich

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Some people are getting likes in judging something they never really tested. And I guess 'hear-say', ,'assuming that' etc is already enough to put something with a philosophy on the same pile as tone controls, damage distortion, reverb, echo and things that are miles away from what it really is. Kind of making it possible here to also judge amps and loudspeakers as judging books by their covers. Handy. "Show me something and I project an opinion onto it"

They would probably sit back and enjoy music through a tube amp, either casually, blind or double blind. But then get in crisis about their opinions after.

For me, music through a tube amp and decent loudspeakers is as enjoyable as a standard class d or a or a-b or a good headphone. But that doesn't match with the poorly informed popular conservative tribal opinion.
I always welcome views that are not part of the herd narrative or something not widely discussed.
I certainly learnt something about the tube amp exciter implementation, kudos to you for bringing this up.
 
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Revolutions

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Perfect execution of Betteridge’s Law 👌🏼 😂

IMO, a simple reason why audio processing effects just don’t work that well (beyond simple compressors & frequency cut/boosters), and it’s been mentioned a few times; different source material will turn an on/off effect into a largely unusable waste of chips & wire. You’d need multiple tweakable parameters to be useful.

Audio mastering is an art & is definitely best left those who have the skill and tools to bring the best out of recordings.

And it stands to reason why neutral sounding setups are so useful: they are super accommodating to differing sources.
 
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Stuart83

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I'm scanning through the comments made and despite having a few different amps and classes my favourite thus far a class-G but I yearn to hear a decent valve amp.

Why I don't exactly know 🧐
For some reason I've always had the assumption they will be the best, yet I've never been near one.
As mentioned in prior threads I've had many vintage separates over the yrs starting from a very young age and do indeed seem to prefer the sound of older quality hifi, perhaps some of this is learned behaviour.
Or maybe listening much to older kit honed in on my existing preference.

Ive been trying to better a favourite amp from the 90s of mine I won't mention as I have many times before (I dont want to keep repeating) but haven't been able to, not really anyway even with amps 4x the price, rather ive let's say, equalled it.
Maybe I'm just self validating my choice of new amp again 😲

Maybe it's the glossy adds combined with the way people write and talk about valve amps and the prices they sell for leading me along the path of high expectations.
I try to get an understanding of the sound by reading the written descriptions, but I know this will never compare to the real sound.

The distortion they add sounds like a thing nobody would want but I imagine it's much different to the distortion heard when pushing smaller speakers too far.
I do like a little colour in my sound.

Perhaps someone who's heard and perhaps lives with one can better describe it's unique sound ?????
And what they are like to live with ie how often the tubes need changing with cost.

Are there any suggestions of a more reasonable tube amp.
I stay away from the term "budget" as it doesn't seem to exist with tube amps.
 
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Holden Caulfield

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True, but it must be disappointing at times when your sound is too 'real':

"How was the concert you went to last night, I know you've been looking forward to it for years?"

"No good, sadly the sound wasn't warm enough for me - I was a bit too close to the stage, the drum symbols were too bright, I needed an exciter or something to warm the sound up" 🙂
This is a ridiculous take. People like to warm up the music via valves because digital music can be a bit cold. It's all in an effort to make the music seem more real. So your silly analogy has no relevance. Valves and exciters are two different things. I would suggest that people who need an exciter should be upgrading their amps and DAC's so you don't need an exciter. But nothing wrong with some valves to try to achieve realism to your digital music. Records probably don't need valves because it's already "warm".
 

Gray

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This is a ridiculous take.

your silly analogy has no relevance.
Thanks for your input👍

No warming up should be necessary - just as neutral as possible for what you might (or probably wouldn't) describe as realism.

But If someone wants to 'warm up' their music, to make it warmer than neutral, then good luck to them I say 👍
 

Jasonovich

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This is a ridiculous take. People like to warm up the music via valves because digital music can be a bit cold. It's all in an effort to make the music seem more real. So your silly analogy has no relevance. Valves and exciters are two different things. I would suggest that people who need an exciter should be upgrading their amps and DAC's so you don't need an exciter. But nothing wrong with some valves to try to achieve realism to your digital music. Records probably don't need valves because it's already "warm".
I think it is a psychological thing, like with colours, some colours are considered warm, others cold.

No?

Ok, what is analogue warmth? It's second- and third-harmonic distortion. You know — the type that makes valve circuitry sound the way it does.

I do like the lazy sound of tubes; yes, it is nice and gooey, it has lovely ambience, it’s like taking your coffee with six lumps of sugar, while Mr. Digital Man takes it with milk, no sugar.

I think it is simplistic to say the sound of tubes offer more realism than digital, modern DACs, those that play digital direct streams are analogue sounding in their tonality as well as offering a wide sound stage that matches or even surpasses the best of vinyl.

Solid state class A amps can sound like their tube counterparts, particularly if the negative feedback isn’t employed in the circuitry, it adds colouration as a trade-off for better sound.

The wonderful thing about HiFi is that it has many facets, it’s big enough for everyone and once you’ve discovered your niche, be happy, because at the end of the day, the music is the relationship between you with the exclusion of all others 😊
 

My2Cents

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You could use Rogue Amoeba's SoundSource app and then run your audio through any plug ins that you have on your computer before sending it to your amp.
Add a touch of plate reverb to your favorite album then EQ the heck out of it... perhaps smear a dab of exciter on top (if that's your thing)... you could even use an 8 bit downsampling effect and make it sound like it was recorded in 1925.
Compress it even further or perhaps run it through an expander?
After all, so much modern music is so badly mastered for streaming you could hardly make it sound much worse.
Apple seems to think that Spatial Audio is the next big money maker.
 

Jasonovich

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This might just make me go back to tube....£2.5K...it's got to be a steal! Watch Randy's YT and I think you'll agree it's the dogs....B and if you were thinking of buying a McIntosh but can't afford it, this might tempt you :)

View: https://youtu.be/F52Ok-mc4v4?si=ednKTPGa90g2pwH8
 

Holden Caulfield

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Jan 2, 2023
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Yes, it is. Kind of an "ancient" implementation choice hat they went for those days and always have stuck with to get the 'tube sound'. The sound of tubes doesn't magically appear because there are tubes. Tubes were also in tv's but it didn't make a difference in image nor sound there.

There might have been a few tube amps without the signature. But when people 'know' about it, and love the signature, It is hard to sell a product that doesnt add just that. People are not going to buy valve amps only for the way they look. Altough.



That is the exciter effect as it is

Tubes are not perfect indeed. There is harmonic distortion, which adds a bit of 'spice' to the midrange, where the vocals are and also a little bit to the bass / sub bass area. It does the things described in the opening and it widens the image just by a fraction. I is like a drop of difference, not an ocean.

The best way to describe it is when I listen to a Jazz track. It is this minor change. The difference in what a mic picked up (direct mode) and the spark of life brought back from the musicians behind that microphone (exciter effect) Resulting in a little sense of more realism.



For pop songs like EDM with tight bass on direct mode might be a hairslice more preferable. But singer songwriter, rock, jazz, classical, vocals etc.. definitely the exciter effect.
I have to disagree with some of this. I was running hi-res music directly from my DAC to my class AB amp and it sounded great but the high frequencies at times were a bit bright for my tastes. I added a tube preamp it simply sounded better than without it. I upgraded the tubes and it sounds amazing. I think you're overthinking it it a bit.
 

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